Jane Mayer on Ohio’s Lurch to the Right

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Last month, the story of a ten-year-old rape victim made national headlines. The girl was forced to travel out of state due to Ohio’s draconian abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape or incest, which would have been almost unthinkable until very recently. Jane Mayer dove deep into Statehouse politics to learn how a longtime swing state — Ohio voted twice for President Barack Obama — ended up legislating as a radically conservative state. Its laws, she says, are increasingly out of step with state voters, and that’s due to a broad Republican effort at gerrymandering. Although familiar, gerrymandering “has become much more of a dark art,” Mayer told David Remnick, “thanks to computers and digital mapping. They’ve now found ways to do it that are so extreme you can create neighborhoods [in which the incumbent] cannot be eliminated by someone from another party. Mayer also talks to David Pepper, an Ohio politician and author of “Laboratories of Autocracy,” who explains how when a district is firmly controlled by one party, the representative is pushed through the primary process inexorably toward the extremism, until you have “a complete breakdown of democracy.

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